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The Daily Tar Heel

Op-ed: Navigating the heartbreak — a call for empathy, love and peace


Editor's Note: This op-ed is part of a series of contributions related to the Israel-Gaza war. Letters and op-eds are sent in by community members and do not represent the beliefs of The Daily Tar Heel. The other op-eds related to this conflict can be found here

Submit your own op-ed or letter to the editor to More information about submissions can be found here.

My heart is broken. Fear, pain and anger are circulating our world right now, and I can’t help but feel overwhelmed and scared. In our current moment, many people feel unsafe and silenced. My heart goes out to all people struggling to process the events in Israel and Palestine — to all people scared, frustrated and in pain. And I’m right there with you.

As many people know, Hamas launched an all-out assault on the people of Israel on Oct. 7. They executed this attack during a celebratory holiday, Simchat Torah, when Israeli forces were unprepared. Israel, declaring war, launched a brutal siege on Gaza, the territory that Hamas rules over. Thousands have been viciously murdered already.

Many Jewish people are mortified. Jewish brothers, sisters and siblings have been terrorized in Israel. Not only is the entire state of Israel shocked and scared, but many Jewish people throughout the world. To many, Israel is a permanent refuge for the Jewish nation; a guarantor of safety after the ravages of the Holocaust. Some believe there is no other way to assure security for the Jewish people. Masses of Jews around the world are not only terrified by the Hamas attacks, but by the reaction of many people. Around the world, many supporters of Palestine have begun to speak up about Palestinian liberation in reaction to the attacks. Some Jewish people have perceived these turn of events as endorsing massacres of Jewish people, drawing comparisons to a modern Holocaust. In the Jewish community, many people are terrified that their safety as a Jew is compromised. The Jewish nation is devastated by the murders of their fellow brothers, sisters and siblings.

Many Arabs and, more specifically, many Palestinians are equally furious, scared and in pain. Palestinians have watched their people in Gaza and the West Bank suffer through horrible living conditions, terrible welfare and endured being silenced. These people have been hurting, with no let-up, for upwards of 75 years. They need this pain to end.

It seems as though many outward Palestine supporters have been silenced any time they advocate for their beliefs. On social media, Palestinians have had their artwork, writings and other posts taken down from Facebook and other social media sites with no explanation. I've seen that many Palestine supporters are hushed on college campuses. I feel as though the Palestinian people are left isolated, angry and in pain, and that they’re scared to speak up. The Palestinian nation has painfully endured 75 years of murders of their fellow brothers, sisters and siblings.

The Oct. 12 protest on UNC's campus exemplified this polarizing and sensitive situation. What was supposed to be a peaceful protest advocating for Palestinian human rights turned into a screaming match, with fights about Hamas and some physical confrontation. Personally being at the protest, I felt deeply saddened watching the pro-Israel side yell over all of the pro-Palestinian speakers, disrupting the protest. It was unproductive and immature. Both sides showed how emotional, hurt and scared they are. There was pain in the voices of the protestors, on both sides.

Israel and Palestine supporters both are facing extreme anguish. This complex and polarizing issue causes high emotions on both sides, understandably making it hard to communicate and find common ground. I don’t blame anyone for being scared, angry and intolerable of the other side. I hope that this polarization can change. This conflict cuts so deep. It can be incredibly difficult to listen to opinions and feelings that may seem outlandish to you. However, if you could find it in your heart to use empathy for the other side — listen before you share your side — I believe the world will be one step closer to a better place. May love and peace be spread through everyone’s worlds.

Rex Bourdelais, UNC sophomore

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